The Chi-Town Jazz Festival hosts an annual weeklong Festival at a variety of venues around Chicago to raise awareness and money for hunger relief. The photo above documents CTJF Board Member, Jennifer Sucher, presenting almost $4000 to Top Box Foods, one of the nonprofits we work with. Top Box Foods shops all month to find the best deals on fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen meats, poultry, and fish. They then bundle the food in boxes and partner with churches, community organizations, housing facilities, and schools to help spread the word about these tremendous savings. More info about Top Box here.
One of the nonprofits providing services to their community is Care For Real in the Edgewater neighborhood. Here is a brief report from them.
Looks like Care for Real is in for a busy summer. May 2017 was the busiest month Care for Real experienced in a long time. 5,402 individuals from 2,972 households participated in our food program and another 588 households (and approximately 1,300 individuals) received clothing and personal care items. 93 new clients came through our doors for the very first time – primarily seniors who are unable to keep up with the rising costs of basic human needs. We are grateful to everyone who supports Care for Real.
Care for Real was established in 1970 by Rev. William Johnson of the Epsicopal Church of the Atonement, Rabbi Herman Schaalman of Emanuel Congregation and other members of the Edgewater Clerical Rabbinical Association. This organization, which is now known as the Edgewater Community Religious Association (ECRA), wanted to provide emergency help to victims of fires in “Arson Alley,” the Kenmore-Winthrop corridor between Foster and Devon. It was intended to be a short-term solution to a specific problem. However, it soon became clear that there was a need in Edgewater for an ongoing safety net for neighbors in need. Today Care for Real is the safety net for the entire Edgewater community.
Today, on average, CFR distributes almost 60,000 pounds of food each month. The nonprofit purchases most of their staple foods from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Local retailers, including Costco, 7-11, Aldi’s, Swedish Bakery, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, True Nature Foods and Panera Cares regularly donate produce and bakery goods. And the community supports Care for Real with individual donations and food drives sponsored by houses of worship, schools, businesses, block clubs and residential buildings.
Purchased food is selected for variety, nutrition and with respect for religious beliefs and ethnic preferences. For the homeless, CFR distributes specially packaged foods that do not require refrigerated storage, can openers or cooking. In addition, Care for Real provides special food baskets for Thanksgiving, Eid al-Fitr and Christmas to make those holidays brighter for our neighbors.
Care for Real runs a clothes closet that distributes “gently used” donated clothing free of charge to clients. A special effort is made to have warm coats, hats, scarves and gloves available for needy neighborhood school children. Last year, approximately 300 children received the clothes they needed to make it through the winter. These children also received backpacks and school supplies at the start of the academic year.
Since our beginning the Chi-Town Jazz Festival has maintained the closest relationship with Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities believes that access to adequate, affordable and nutritious food is a basic human right. Freedom from hunger is a prerequisite for individuals and families to live productive, healthy and dignified lives. Read more about what they do here.
The Hyde Park Kenwood Food Pantry gives out groceries including fresh produce every Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave. A case manager is also available, and the pantry also gives away clothing and personal hygiene items as available. Serving the community since 1981, this Food Pantry is part of the Hyde Park Kenwood Hunger Programs, a
501(c)3 organization with Hyde Park Union Church as the fiscal agent. They serve around five hundred individuals per month; roughly one third of our recipients are age 18 or younger, and nearly the same number are age 60 and above. Please visit their site for more info: http://hpuc.org/mission/hunger-programs/
Chi-Town Jazz Festival has supported hunger relief in the Chicagoland area for almost 8 years. We ask many of the city’s great jazz musicians to donate their talents to perform in several venues during a week in March. We ask the venues to offer their stages and donate their entrance fees. And we solicit donations and Sponsoring support from both music lovers and all those individuals and companies who want to give back to the community by addressing “food insecurity,” which means helping those who have little or no sources of food for themselves or their families. So, who do we help? Where does the money go? In this and the next few posts we’ll tell you. Click here to learn about one of the nonprofits we’ve been working with for the past few years, Top Box Foods.
Supporting Hunger Relief in Chicago for Eight Years